Riesling and House Cured Corned Beef, A St Patrick’s Day Feast with recipe

House cured corned beef
House cured corned beef

When most people think of Saint Patrick’s Day wine doesn’t enter into the picture. In NYC, towering walls of kegs are stacked and ready to wash down thousands of pounds of corned beef, cabbage and countless sandwiches prepared for hungry throngs of parade goers. In fact a survey done last year reported the popular Irish brand Guinness sold a whopping 3.5 million pints while the American brewer Sam Adams showed a 13.5 percent increase in sales on March 17th, 2012!

So why think of drinking Riesling on St. Patrick’s Day? Many are deliciously dry and full of juicy ripe fruit flavor, the perfect pairing for your Saint Patrick’s Day celebration. Have you been led to believe that all Rieslings are sweet uninteresting wines? NOT TRUE! In fact this wonderful white grape is the favorite of many sommeliers.

Think of how well Riesling pairs with salty meats, pickled things, sauerkraut and smoked pork. Corned beef is cured in many of the same spices used to cook sauerkraut in many regions of Germany. The spicy peppercorns, coriander seeds, allspice and clove used to cure corned beef are the perfect flavors to play off of the beautiful fruit contained in a dry Riesling. Cabbage cooked in the same juices as the meat pick up a spicy, cured flavor that pairs well with a wine that has apple and rich citrus flavors, enter Riesling!

Crusty rye bread, studded with savory caraway seeds is often served along with a plate of corned beef or used to make a sandwich dressed with spicy mustard. I’m not talking about the tasteless rye bread available in grocery stores but the real dense and rustic rye served with Riesling in Alsace, Germany and Austria. Sure they may top it with liverwurst, schmaltz or silky, smoked whitefish but the fatty corned beef serves as the same concept when combined with the hearty bread, it needs an acidic wine to cut the richness.

Last year I cured my own corned beef (scroll down for recipe) along with many bloggers participating in #charcutepalooza and tried endless variations of pairing with friends. Riesling won out on all counts against a number of wines sampled! Try it you’ll like it! Please let me know if you find other Riesling that you enjoy with your own feast, below are my favorite picks.

4 Riesling wines I recommend to serve with your own Saint Patrick’s Day Feast !

Ravines Dry Riesling
Ravines Dry Riesling

Ravines Dry Riesling, 2011, Finger Lakes

This brilliant wine from the Finger Lakes region of New York demonstrates just how beautiful Riesling can be when vinified dry. This is pure Riesling, reflecting the stony
minerality and crisp apple-and-lime fresh fruit character that just can’t be
found in any other varietal. There’s none of the “petrol” notes sometimes found
in dry Riesling, just pure Riesling character and great length.  $18.99 in most locations

skSybille Kunz Quadrat, 2009, Mosel, Germany

I first tasted this wonderful wine made by one of Germany’s few female owned and operated wineries by pure chance. My roommate had drunk one of my most coveted bottles of Auslese and replaced it with this gem.Tropical aromas of ripe, yellow fruits like cantaloupe, pineapple and a bit of apricots in the nose, followed by honey and some sweet spice. In the taste a very present peach and later creamy cassis. This dry Riesling Spätlese from old vines tastes alive and tingly! A great mouthfeel, layers and layers of complexity, creamy and gorgeously dry with a very long finish. Lip smacking good ! $22-25 in most markets

A stellar off dry from Lauer
A stellar off dry from Lauer

Lauer, off dry, feinherb, Ayler Kupp Fass 6 Senior, Saar, GermanyThe 2011 Senior is just barely off-dry, and is marked as such by Florian Lauer with his ‘TF” symbol, representing “Trocken bis Feinherb,” which roughly translates to dry with just a hint of sweetness. It’s lush citrus tones are enhanced with cool, blue-slate mineral tones and a touch of fiery red berry. Wonderfully balanced, very focused and finishes dry with a sense of bright, round, juicy fruit. Magically delicious! $22-25 in most markets

A favorite from Alsace! Zind Humbrecht Riesling, 2009, Alsace, Franceriesling als

I’ve never met a Zind Humbrecht I didn’t like! Made by France’s first MW this incredibly rich yet dry wine is wonderful! Hints of apricot, petrol, lychee, bacon fat and ripe, crisp apple linger on the palate. Creamy and concentrated. Wonderful with many foods from sausage to apple tarts. $22-25 in most markets

The following recipe is from Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing.

Home-Cured Corned Beef

1-1/2 cups kosher salt*
½ cup sugar
4 teaspoons pink salt (sodium nitrite), optional, this is what causes pink color
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons pickling spice- use this mixture 2 tablespoons black peppercorns, 2 tablespoons mustard seeds, 2 tablespoons coriander seeds, 2 tablespoons hot red pepper flakes, 2 tablespoons allspice berries, 1 tablespoon ground mace, 2 small cinnamon sticks crushed or broken into pieces, 24 bay leaves crumbled, 2 tablespoons whole cloves, 1 tablespoon ground ginger.

1. Combine peppercorns, mustard seeds and coriander seeds in a small dry pan. Place over medium heat and stir until fragrant, being careful not to burn them; keep lid handy in case seeds pop. Crack peppercorns and seeds in mortar and pestle or with the side of a knife on cutting board. 2. Combine with other spices, mix. Store in tightly sealed plastic or glass container. Yield: 1 cup.

 1 5-pound beef brisket
1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and cut in two
1 celery stalk, roughly chopped.

In pot large enough to hold brisket, combine 1 gallon of water with kosher salt, sugar, sodium nitrite (if using), garlic and 2 tablespoons pickling spice. Bring to a simmer, stirring until salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled.

Place brisket in brine, weighted with a plate to keep it submerged; cover. Refrigerate for 5 days.

Remove brisket from brine and rinse thoroughly.

My recipe to cook—————-

Additional Ingredients

1 large orange, studded with 4 cloves

1 onion peeled

1 stalk celery, cut in half

8 medium red potatoes, washed

1 head cabbage, quartered

2 tablespoons pickling spice

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 cloves garlic

Place meat  in a pot large enough to hold it with additional room for veggies later. Cover with water and add remaining pickling spice, onion, orange, vinegar , garlic and celery. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to low and cover. Add cabbage and potatoes after 2 hrs.Simmer gently until brisket is fork-tender, about 3 hours in all, adding water if needed to cover brisket.

Keep warm until ready to serve. Meat can be refrigerated for several days in cooking liquid. Reheat in the liquid or serve chilled. Slice thinly against grain and serve with cabbage, potatoes and carrots.



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